South Carolina has lost only twice as a double-digit home favorite since 2004, and oddsmakers don't see it happening Thursday as the Gamecocks host state rival UNC.
Eschewing the standard scheduling of powder puffs to open the college football season, the Gamecocks and North Carolina Tar Heels kick off the 2013 campaign with an ACC-SEC border battle on Thursday night in Columbia (6 p.m. ET on ESPN).
Most college football betting outlets tracked by OddsShark.com were chalking the Gamecocks at 10.5 points over the Heels, with a total of 56. But since then, South Carolina has been bet up to -12 and even -12.5 at some shops.
A huge majority of total bets were on the UNDER, as nearly 90 percent of the action predicted a low-scoring affair.
South Carolina, ranked No. 6 in the AP preseason poll, returns 12 starters from a team that went 11-2 and beat Michigan in the Outback Bowl last season. Seven starters are back on offense, including senior quarterback Connor Shaw (68 percent completions, 17/7 TD/INT ratio last year) and four along the offensive line.
But the Gamecocks have got to replace leading rusher Marcus Lattimore and wide receiver Ace Sanders, who combined to score 20 touchdowns last season. Only five starters are back on defense, and while none are among the linebacking corps, one of those back on the stop unit is monster defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who's both a candidate to become the top pick in the next NFL draft and a Heisman contender.
North Carolina, meanwhile, in its second season under head coach Larry Fedora and has 13 starters back from a team that went 8-4 last year but missed playing in a bowl because of a postseason ban. If not for that ban, the Heels would have played in the ACC Championship Game as winners of the Coastal Division.
Six starters return on offense for UNC, including senior QB Bryn Renner (65 percent completions, 28/7 TD/INT ratio last season), WR Quinshad Davis (61 catches, 12.7 YPC last year) and tight end Eric Ebron (40 catches, 15.6 YPC last season). However, the Tar Heels have got to replace leading rusher Giovani Bernard and three starters along the O-line. Defensively, seven starters are back for the team this season.
The high-flying Heels averaged almost 41 PPG last year; the stubborn Gamecocks gave up just 18 PPG. South Carolina averaged 31.5 PPG last season; UNC gave up 26 PPG.
These two teams last met back in October 2007, when the Gamecocks, in their third season under Steve Spurrier, built a 21-0 lead and held on for a 21-15 victory in Chapel Hill.
As of earlier this week, South Carolina was getting around 6-1 odds to win the SEC championship this season, while North Carolina was lined at around 10-1 odds to win the ACC championship.
Prediction: South Carolina comes out flying and demolishes UNC.
Stats and odds courtesy of OddsShark.com. Follow line moves and trend updates on Twitter.
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